At least 40 people were killed and more than 20 injured, in a deadliest mass shooting occurred at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said the events in the city of Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
The entire Bangladesh cricket team present at the site was just saved from the incident. “Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!” tweeted Bangladeshi cricketer Tamim Iqbal. “Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.
One person was taken into custody but it was unclear if there were other people involved, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. He said anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday should stay put.
Authorities have not said who they have in custody. But a man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.
Ardern at her news conference alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive, saying that while many people affected by the shootings may be migrants or refugees “they have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”
The deadliest shooting occurred at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 p.m. Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.
Peneha, who lives next door to the mosque, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway, and fled. Peneha said he then went into the mosque to try and help. “I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said.